DETROIT (AP) – Some teachers and a counselor at a Michigan high school were aware of a teenager’s troubling interest in guns and violence months before he was accused of fatally shooting four students and wounding others, a lawyer representing the victims said. families, Thursday.
“From literally the beginning of school, Ethan Crumbley witnessed signs of being a very troubled individual, to say the least,” Detroit attorney Ven Johnson said, referring to statements taken in a civil lawsuit against Oxford Community Schools and some staff at Oxford High School.
Crumbley, now 16, stand trial next year as an adult on murder and other charges in the Nov. 30 shooting.
A teacher said Crumbley drew what appeared to be an ammunition magazine on a note card in late August 2021. Crumbley also responded in an investigation that his favorite books included “Making Bombs for Hitler,” while “Dexter” and “Breaking Bad” were among his favorite TV shows.
A week later, in an autobiographical poetry assignment to a Spanish teacher, he wrote that he “feels terrible and that his family is a failure,” Johnson quoted from an email the teacher sent to a school counselor.
The teacher who received the note card said in her deposition that she did not see the drawing until the day before the shooting. There was apparently no follow-up to the Spanish teacher’s email in September asking the counselor to get in touch with Crumbley, Johnson said.
prosecutors have said Crumbley used a semi-automatic handgun to open fire on other teenagers in the hallway at the school about 50 kilometers north of Detroit. The four students who were killed was 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.
Crumbley’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, was charged with negligent homicide and pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors accuse the couple of failing to keep the gun used in the shooting safe in the home and failing to take reasonable care of their son when he showed signs of mental illness.
The day before the shooting, a teacher saw Ethan Crumbley looking at ammunition on his phone while in class. School officials left a voicemail informing his mother.
The morning after the shooting, Crumbley’s parents were called to the school and confronted with his drawings, which included a handgun and the words: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” Authorities said the parents refused to take him home after the 13-minute meeting and were told to get him counseling.
Several parents who attended Johnson’s news conference in Detroit on Thursday said they were unaware of some of the details revealed in the depositions.
School district accused of withholding information
“I don’t see any excuse not to take these red flags very seriously,” said Jill Soave, mother of Justin Shilling. “We’re learning all these months later that this could have been avoided. These kids should be with us today. There’s no excuse. Anyone with any kind of common sense could put the pieces together that something was very wrong.”
William Myre, Tate Myre’s father, accused the school district of withholding information that could have been used to prevent the shooting.
“Meanwhile, here we are buying memorial shirts for our murdered child,” he said, holding up a blue T-shirt. “What are Oxford Community Schools doing? Nothing. Nothing.”
Schools Superintendent Ken Weaver said Thursday that the district has been cooperating with the criminal investigation into the shooting.
“We are also fully cooperating with the civil litigation process and will continue to do so,” Weaver said in a statement. “I remain confident that the many investigations, lawsuits and the school board’s third-party review will bring all the facts to light and bring about the full transparency and accounting of events our community wants and deserves.”
Johnson filed civil case earlier this year against the school district. It also names Oxford High School’s dean of students, two counselors and three teachers as defendants.